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Less is more, or more is more?


10/31/23

Less is more. Less weight, less food, less emotions, and my personal favorite - less thoughts. And, more value. Where does that value really come from, though? It came from her, it came from them, and it came from the person that reflected back to me in the mirror. But - I don’t think that was me. The girl in the mirror was grasping on to whatever she could to feel worthy of life.

I wish I could tell the whole world my story. Because my story is mine alone - and nobody has a right to ever tell me what is and what isn't. And to be honest I haven’t felt like writing lately, because more is more. And if it ends up being too short, I refuse to post it. Nobody wants to read a four paragraph blog post, right? But why am I even thinking about other people, when this is my space? Journaling was my outlet and now I have nothing to say, but - so much to say.

Coming to terms with what has happened and what the rest of my life looks like makes me stuck. But not the same kind of stuck that once was. The kind of immobility you get from the overwhelming feelings of change. Change that makes me jump out of my seat and squeal like a toddler in a high chair, but also a change that makes me paralyzed and stiffen up.

I feel like I should be fighting back. I feel like I need to want it - but I don’t. Not right now. Because it wasn't just ballet. It was so much more. It was stashing pills in my makeup bag, just in case the day were to come. It was stepping on the scale every day - just so I knew. It was choosing recovery, in a place that didn’t support it. It was my lifeline dying. It was my roommate walking with me down US- 1 afterwards, looking at iguanas as we crossed the drawbridge. It was the blisters I had after walking, because I wore the neighbors flip flops to avoid going into the house again. But not feeling them - because how could I? It was having panic attacks from being alone. Crying to god, HELP! Even though I didn’t go to church much. It was sobbing in front of a mirror at 12 a.m waiting for an answer that I knew wouldn’t come. Resorting to Your On Your Own, Kid by Taylor Swift to take away the pain built up. It was the fear of hugs, and the fear or touch that followed up with thoughts. And, it was the swollen eyes the morning after I finally asked for help.

So now I am sitting here crying as I read this back. Because it is hard to look back at the times that broke you. And as much as I thought I was “thriving” and “finally out of it” I wasn't. I was running in place as fast as I could. Until someone told me to stop. But only because the sprints were visible to her. My invisible sprints never caught her eye - but they probably hurt the most.

But if you flip it: less compulsions, less control, less rigidity. More life. But just as one leaves, the next one sneaks up. Like the pesky ants in the corner of your kitchen. Right as the nightmare ant left, Ed, the new ant showed up. And right when Ed left, bubbles showed up.

Like I said, I am doing this for myself. And I am done writing for tonight. Because now I am empty, and not in a bad way. In a relieving sort of way. But, I do have more. Because I wrote this entry a while ago, and still want to share it. But - I didn’t feel like it was written well enough. So here I am actively challenging my own perfectionism and tackling it head on.

Here it is:


10/19/23

I wish I could write a book - but I can’t. If I could tell the world my story, I would. But as I have continued to write my blog, I’ve realized I don’t think I am in the place to tell it. Writing gives me an outlet to wear my heart on my sleeve, but when it's out in the open it's more likely to shatter. Needless to say, maybe in the future.

If you know me well enough, you know I like to talk around things. I avoid words so the heart continues to stay in one piece. It is hard to take steps when they are not warranted. And even now when they are, it is still hard. The next step for me is still raw, though. I like to say time is the healer, but in some cases - it has proven to not be. It’s the scab that just keeps getting picked at. The one that I will always hold at a risk. But this is the kind of scab you can’t see. And that makes it even more challenging. I have found identity within the visible, but what about the invisible buried underneath the skin?

What is your ‘invisible’? Mine is the doubting disorder. Or the relentless questioning? I don’t know. But maybe once I know what it is, everything will be ok? Maybe this is all a cop out so I can hide what is really underneath? *Ok take a breath*, what even is underneath? What if I don’t have the doubting disorder? What if this was all a dream? But it wasen’t - because I have pictures. Okay… but maybe you remember it differently? She is wrong, it was a misdiagnosis. I didn’t tell her every detail. How could she possibly know? I just want attention, and I created my own problem for it. No that's not true because if it were I wouldn’t be trying to get rid of it. But maybe I just feel guilty? Uh oh, am I acting differently? I have no morals. But, I must have morals if it brings me this much stress to think about, right? Why can’t I trust myself? Why am I still acting like this, I am in recovery? Oh, that's right - I am recovering. Though some thoughts are stronger than others, I will always be searching for an answer. Not just an answer, but also the answer to why I need that answer. But maybe the answer is to not have one

I think a contributor to the doubt is the misunderstanding. And after years of me trying to understand, why do I still question myself? Before I knew anything about it - I just thought it was about color coding your markers and straightening shelves. That is what led me to think I was crazy. But what about the torment in the brain each and every waking hour of the day? What about fearing yourself?

Like any doubter does - I did my research. I went directly to the professional - and told her exactly what monster I was dealing with. After all, that is just a symptom. She doubted me, and my doubt skyrocketed. So when a patient comes in with an intrusive thought about hurting their child, will you send them to the psych ward? And if someone comes to you panicking about whether they love their partner, would you tell them just to break up? Well, if you know anything about the doubting disorder you would know, that is not the answer. And that is where the gap is in the system. Why do you think anxiety spiked in the first place? Do murders avoid knives - just in case they might want to hurt someone?

When asked how life would be different for someone if they didn’t have the doubting disorder, it will usually lead them to their values. At the root of doubt is the worry of life without values. Every action I take is in order to protect myself. Protect myself from myself, and protect myself from everything else. Every compulsion feels like a reset, and recalibration. But from what? A thought?

People like to criticize you for setting boundaries, because they can’t set their own. People like to criticize you for being self - aware, because their body is the furthest thing away from their brain. People like to pin you as the black sheep when things don’t go their way. Because when a system becomes disrupted, that is healthy or unhealthy, people are put in a vulnerable position. Let me tell you something though - I think I would rather be the black sheep than the one stuck in a system they know is wrong.

Mental health awareness week was not that long ago, and it had me thinking. I was recently scrolling through my camera roll and memories. Every picture from August 17th 2020 on became proof. Every picture becomes a feeling and a memory. November 11th 2020, a sprained ankle. Not just that, but also an intrusive thought. Something that pulled me away from my surroundings and into my head, just long enough to not know where the ground was in relation to my foot. March 1st 2021 - taken at 9:45 pm. A grinning smile, because I had escaped back to my old self. Fear left my mind, but not the doubt. March 2nd became worse, but at least I had the picture to reassure myself that not all my thoughts are true. Fast forward to May 24th 2023, 12:47 pm: I knew the meeting wasn't going to end well. I saw it coming, as my eyes welled up. I took a picture. May 24th 2023, 2:58 pm: I hugged my favorite 6 year old - smiling and faking my way through the rest of the day.

All this to say - that is the power of the brain. Whether someone is high functioning or low functioning, we can all struggle. And you shouldn’t need to prove illness to anyone, even yourself. So no, Mental illness does not have a look. Keep a lookout for your friends and family, because even the most subtle changes in a person could mean the world for them.

So maybe in the future you will see a memoir on the shelf in the library. And on the cover it will say by Ilse Smith. But right now, this is all I got. I have a computer, a journal, and a website - all to show the most “me” side of me. And if I were to share with you my open wound, maybe it would heal someone else's. But honestly, it would shatter the heart on my own sleeve - and I can’t do that. But then again, what is that open wound????
















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